Overview of the Seals – Rev 6

To put the seals plainly, where we’ll go back through in more detail later, we see them as follows: 1) war/conquest, 2) no peace, 3) famine, 4) pestilence/death, 5) martyrdom/persecution, and 6) earthquake, sun turned black, red moon, stars fall, sky recedes like a scroll, every mountain and island removed, men call upon the rocks to save them, and the wrath of the Lamb. Whether there is symbolic language or not, these events seem to be actual and literal. The reason for this is that they parallel what Jesus had said the end of the age shall be, and his language was not symbolic. We see Revelation 6 angelic beings that seem to actually cause the event to unfold. There is a seal broken in heaven, and the first four seals have a living creature reveal them.

When we compare this to the Olivet discourse, we find this:

Matthew 24:6-9, 29:
1) Wars
2) International strife
3) Famine
4) Earthquake
5) Persecution
6) Eclipse of the sun and moon, falling stars, and shaking of the powers of heaven

Mark 13:7-9, 24-25:
1) Wars
2) International strife
3) Earthquake
4) Famine
5) Persecution
6) As in Matthew

Luke 21:9-12, 25-26:
1) Wars
2) International Strife
3) Earthquakes
4) Famines
5) Pestilence
6) Persecutions
7) Sings in the sun, moon, and stars, men fainting for fear of things coming on the world, shaking of powers in heaven

Notice how Revelation 6 seems to be a hybrid of the Olivet discourse. It is important to note that Revelation 6 follows the Olivet discourse, but the Olivet discourse follows Daniel.

Daniel 11:
1) War (verse 21-22)
2) International strife (verse 23-25, 29-30)
3) Betrayal/rebellion
4) Abomination of desolation (verse 31-32)
5) Persecution (verse 33-35)
6) Boastful man (verse 36-39)
7) Armageddon (verse 40-45)

Matthew 24:
1) Wars
2) International strife
3) Famine
4) Earthquake
5) Betrayal (rebellion)
6) Abomination of desolation (verse 15)
7) Great distress (persecution)
8) False Christ
9) Coming of the Son of Man (with events listed above)

Mark 13:
1) Wars
2) International strife
3) Earthquake
4) Famine
5) Betrayal (rebellion)
6) Abomination of desolation
7) Persecution
8) False Christ
9) Events mentioned above
10) Return of Jesus

Luke 21:

1) War
2) International strife
3) Earthquake
4) Famine
5) Pestilence
6) Persecution/betrayal
7) Jerusalem surrounded (“desolation is near”)
8) Unequaled distress (compare to Daniel 12:1)
9) Events mentioned above in 7th point
10) Return of Jesus

Because there is clear evidence that the Olivet discourse is paralleling the prophecies in Daniel, there is equally enough evidence to expect that John is writing out the events he is seeing in the vision with the same sort of language to cause us to go back and fill in the blanks. We see that the first four seals correspond to the first segment of Daniel 11, and that with the establishment of the abomination of desolation comes persecution. We also see from Daniel and from the mouth of Jesus that betrayal is the reason for the establishment of the abomination of desolation. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, we read of a “great falling away”, which the original Greek would refer to apostasy and not “falling away”. Paul was expecting rebellion, because that is what Daniel and Jesus both laid out.

It is when the apostasy, or the rebellion, occurs that the “man of sin” (Antichrist) is revealed by setting himself up in the temple as God. Notice how this also corresponds with Daniel 11, that the Antichrist figure becomes boastful and calls himself God in verses 36-39. We find the same progression in Jesus’ discourse when we see his speaking of “false messiahs”. In Daniel, these three pieces (rebellion, abomination of desolation, and persecution) all go side-by-side and not necessarily in a progression one after another. Of course, with time there is always step one, step two, step three. However, these events are quite close to simultaneous. It is after the establishment of that abomination and the beginning of persecution – the unequaled days of distress – that the “man of sin” then becomes boastful.

Matthew 24:21 and parallels are a direct quote of Daniel 12:1, putting the persecutions in the last three and a half years of the tribulation. We see our timeline quite easily here. The first four seals are within the first three and a half years of that final week, and the last three seals are the final three and a half years. Contained between the sixth and seventh seal is the 144,000, of which some view to be before the time of “Jacob’s Trouble”, but our author is not interested with chronology in this placement. The reason we see the 144,000 after the return of Christ (for, the sixth seal gives all of the same signs of Jesus’ return as the Olivet discourse) is because John wants to make the point that these are the sons of Israel that are redeemed. “All Israel shall be saved” when “those who pierced him” shall “behold him” (Rev 1:7).

The sealing may or may not take place before the fifth seal – Revelation 9:4 saying so, especially when coupled with Ezekiel 9 – but our author is more concerned with explaining what the 144,000 are rather than the timeline directly. It is the first six seals that parallel the Olivet discourse, and so our author makes that plain by not interrupting the text.

We find that the sixth seal and the seventh bowl of wrath both have this earthquake, every island fleeing away, and the response of the men of the earth. However, we find that the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl of wrath all have the same description: the earthquake, the hailstorm, the lightning, and the thunder. The reason that I would claim that the sixth seal is the return of Jesus rather than the seventh seal is simple: when following the Olivet discourse, that is where it fits. This would also explain why the people cry out, “Hide us from… the wrath of the Lamb!” It is possible that the interjection of this scene in Revelation 7 is merely an interjection like Revelation 10-11 (which doesn’t actually elongate the narrative of the seven trumpets), and so the sixth and seventh seals are actually close to simultaneous. It might be that the sixth seal is the sings in the heavens that take place just prior to Jesus return, as spoken in the Olivet discourse, and the seventh seal is His actual return. I find nothing to say this could not be so. What I don’t accept is that the sixth seal is somehow way at the beginning of the narrative regarding the final Tribulation. There simply cannot be any way for that to be possible. Jesus’ dialogue betrays us if we desire to believe that.

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